05 Aug Young, Free & Pasifika Conference
On Tuesday 27th July, a group of ten of our senior, female Pasifika students attended the ‘Young, Free & Pasifika’ Conference in Mangere. This event provides an opportunity to gather together young Pasifika women (aged 16-19) from the Auckland region to be empowered as future leaders. The conference is held annually to build leadership, confidence and self-esteem through performing arts.
Polauga Gade and Roberta Leota spoke about the experience:
‘Young, Free and Pasifika’ simply refers to us as young women who need to be free of choices and understanding. As an Islander youth, I think that, as I am living in a different country, we should have freedom and the right to be whoever we want. We should be able to showcase our different cultures and have respect so that we can share this with other people from other cultures and nations.
My experience of the Proud Pasifika youth women conference (workshop) was that it was a really good way to create and open this kind of opportunity for Pasifika people. It was an opportunity to share our different situations and to tell our stories to younger generations and those who needed to hear them. It was really encouraging, as there were experienced women from different nations and islands who came and shared their stories as to how they were able to overcome their different obstacles. They really encouraged me in different ways – such as how they lived on an island and what it was like to be brought to a different country. It wasn’t easy to adapt and cope in a different country like New Zealand, because it is a very advanced country and there are a lot of things to discover and learn.
The Young, Free and Pacific Women conference really made me feel loved, understood, and comfortable, as we were able to come together as Pacific Islander Youths and share love and respect with each other. There were young women who went through different challenges in life while growing up and they really did encourage us altogether to always think positively and trust in God. Young, Free and Pacific Womens brought us together to stand strong and be united.
Polauga Gade, Year 12, Fijian
At first, when I was told I had been selected for this conference, I wasn’t excited. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend this event. But I took the chance and went along.
Speaking from my heart, going to this event was one of the best choices I’ve ever made so far. From the very beginning to the very end it was nothing but a good experience. Being able to hear my poly sisters and their stories was one of the best moments. When I sat there in the audience I would have never imagined the past they had to overcome. At the end of their stories, they would always talk about how they overcame moments when they were at their lowest. Every one of them came back to having a strong connection with family and God.
Roberta Leota, Year 12, Samoan